We are halfway through President Trumpís first 100 days in office, and during my travels across the state and here in Libby, I hear both eagerness and uncertainty from Montanans.
There are many important issues where President Trump and I share common ground, and I am working with Republicans, Democrats and Independents to make these policies work for Montana families.
The Presidentís goal of creating American jobs, buying American-made products and strengthening our economy is something we can all get behind.
As Ranking Member of the Senate Veteransí Affairs Committee, I will work with President Trump to strengthen accountability at the VA, and improve access and quality of care for our nationís veterans. Our country must live up to its commitment to the folks who have served, and that is why I will push to reform the Veteransí Choice Program and eliminate the barriers that have been forcing veterans to wait too long for the care they deserve.
Just like President Trump, I believe we have to ďDrain the SwampĒ to rid Washington, D.C. of the influence of special interests. In order to eliminate the revolving door between special interests and the federal government, I am sponsoring legislation to ban former members of Congress and hundreds of members of the Executive Branch from lobbying for five years after leaving public service. I hope the President will support my bill, and I will push hard to get him to sign it into law.
I also support President Trumpís plan to invest in our countryís aging infrastructure, and I will work with his administration to rebuild Montanaís roads, bridges and water systems. Any major infrastructure package must create good-paying jobs in Montana and make critical investments across our rural state.
But there are times when the Trump Administration has given me pause.
There is no such thing as free lunch, and Montanans know how to balance a budget. I have yet to hear President Trumpís specific plan to pay for his proposed budget increases and tax reforms. We canít continue to saddle future generations with debt. We must work together to get our books in order.
I also wonít allow the President to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan. If folks in Congress succeed in repealing the Affordable Care Act without a responsible replacement plan, 152,000 Montanans with pre-existing conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure could be kicked off their health insurance plans, and 71,000 more Montanans couldlose access to Medicaid. In fact, here in Lincoln County there are 1,840 folks covered under Medicaid and Iíd hate to see their health care put at risk.
The Affordable Care Act isnít perfect, but rather than toss the whole thing out, both parties need to work together to improve the Affordable Care Act to lower health care costs and increase access.
I want answers from the President and his cabinet about their willingness to uphold civil liberties, their commitment to protect our public lands and their contact with Russian operatives. Keeping Montana and America safe is the most important job I have.
And most of all, I want to ensure that President Trump understands the challenges facing folks in rural America. The President is from New York City, and I think we are going to have to constantly remind him to focus on rural states like Montana.
I firmly believe that in order to create jobs and boost opportunities for all Montanans, folks from all parties must be willing to work together and reach across the aisle. That is how we have always done business in Montana and I believe the nation can follow our lead.
That is why you have my commitment that I will continue to work with President Trump when I can, and I will hold him accountable when I must.
Sen. Jon Tester